The Impact of a University’s Language Policy on Its Library’s Print Collections

  • Siviwe Bangani North-West University
  • Glenda Makate North-West University
  • Boitumelo Masilo North-West University
  • Mathew Moyo North-West University
Keywords: language policy, indigenous languages, African languages, indigenous knowledge, collection development, cataloguing


The aim of this study was to establish the impact of the North-West University’s language policy on its library’s print collections. It analyses the languages represented by books held by the North-West University Library and Information Services. The article further established the strategies used by the libraries to develop, preserve and promote African languages in support of the university’s language policy. The paper employed bibliometrics and focus group interviews to gather data. The findings revealed that books in African languages that were recognised by the university were difficult to get on the market. As a result, the majority of books accessioned by the libraries were in English, followed by Afrikaans, and relatively few books in Setswana, and Sesotho. The study is the first of its kind focusing on language policy and academic libraries in South Africa. It is valuable to both policy makers and librarians in their endeavours to develop sizeable African language collections in support of the curricula and research. Among the recommendations is that African language departments at various universities should collaborate with libraries to start open access African language journals, and publish them through the institutional repositories.